Modernizing an 80's Oak Kitchen on a Tiny Budget

16 hours ago
Previously, this kitchen (originally installed in 1988) was too monochromatic. The color of the cabinets and the floors was too similar and the small island was lost in sea of golden oak. The awful drop ceiling fluorescent light was extremely dated and the lack of cabinet hardware only emphasized the arched paneled doors which didn't feel very modern..
I stained the center island dark brown, and painted the cabinets a warm cream color (Manchester Tan by Benjamin Moore) I added hardware to the cabinets and removed the old fluorescent lights which I replaced with 2 pendants and some LED cans. I tiled the backsplash with pencil tile to accentuate the generic granite countertops. I also updated the kitchen faucet and removed a few cabinet doors to break up the monotony of the cabinet doors.
The entire transformation (including the new Bosch appliance suite) came in under $3500. I did all the work myself, including the electrical, plumbing and tiling. The transformation took a little less than 3 weeks.
For more information about this project (including more photos and detailed tutorials) please visit:
#BudgetUpgrade #powerofpaint #ModernKitchen
  • I added simple trim molding on the ceiling to not only mask where the old lighting fixture had been, but also to add architectural detail to ceiling and define the space above the island.
A new ceiling semi-flush chandelier and trim to hide the drywall damage replace a fluorescent box light
  • A pencil tile backsplash modernizes the space and draws your eyes away from the arched cabinetry.
A pencil tile backsplash modernized the space
  • The island (which is stained and not painted) is now distinguished from the rest of the cabinetry and stands out against the honey oak flooring.
A dark stained island contrasts with the light cabinets everywhere else.
  • New paint, cabinet hardware, appliances, fixtures, lighting and a backsplash completely transform this kitchen without any major renovations to the space.
Before and after
  • By removing the doors on the cabinet, backing it with beadboard wallpaper and trimming out the corners with shelf brackets, there is now more open display space and the cabinetry feels a little more custom
Before and after (including a new 'open shelving' cabinet that had the door removed and decorative brackets added to make it feel less like a door-less cabinet
  • New paint, cabinet hardware, appliances, fixtures, lighting and a backsplash completely transform this kitchen without any major renovations to the space.
It is a huge transformation

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  • Melanie Crawford
    Melanie Crawford Clarkson, KY
    This looks great...I have the exact kitchens cabinets. You have given me inspiration! :-)
  • Paula
    Paula Jacksonville, FL
    what kind of white paint did you use that doesnt chip.
  • Theresaloren
    theresaloren Pembroke, MA
    I have often wanted to paint my kitchen cabinets because the oak has darkened so much over the years. So far I haven't dared but yours look so beautiful that I may finally do it.
  • Dylanthomasp
    dylanthomasp Athens, OH
    I did mine years ago in an older house. I found that Marine varnish is wonderful to finish off the cabinets and prevent chipping or staining, which I had after a few months without the varnish. I think there is a Bartender's varnish, too, that works well.
  • BEV
    BEV Syosset, NY
    am I the only one who prefers "brown" cabinets?